22 July 2007

The GDR Still Lives

Every so often I stumble upon a site that deserves numerous lengthy visits. One such recent find is Strange Maps. As one would expect it has lots of fascinating maps, some fictional, some bizarre: many are real, but obscure or virtually forgotten. Although not a map as such there is an entry about Ernst Thallman Island . I think I had read about this somewhere before but I had forgotten about it.

The GDR still lives? Well technically it appears so. Cayo Ernesto Thaelmann, formerly Cayo Blanco del Sur, is 15km (about nine and a half miles) long and 500m (a bit over a quarter of a mile) wide island just off the coast of Cuba in the Gulf of Cojones, sorry Cazones. It is uninhabited, other than occasional tourists.

On the occasion of a state visit in June 1972 Castro made the island a gift to the GDR and it was remnamed in the memory of pre-WWII German Communist leader Ernst Thalmann. One of its beaches was renamed Playa RDA (GDR Beach) and in August 1972 there was an event to mark the island's on the island's ceremonial transfer which involved the unveiling of a bust of Thälmann

After reunification Germany made no claims for the territory and thus the island technically represents the sole landmass of the former communist state The Cuban government now views the gift as a symbolic gesture rather than a concession and would probably not be happy if settled by Germans of any political strip

The Bust of Thallman survived the downfall of communism but could not withstand the ravages of Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Other communist nations were more parsimonious that Cuba. Mongolia and Vietnam merely issued stamps to mark Thalmann's centenary in 1986...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. Strange Maps looks fascinating!

jams o donnell said...

Good isn't it?

Anonymous said...

former Cuba territory and Cstro gift to GDR re. Cayo Ernesto Thälmann, this territory is since January 2004 a state part of the sovereign absolute monarchystate State Kingdom of Marduk, tis is under international acknowledgment. www.kingmarduk.de